Bella was among 20 movies shown at the Real Life Film Festival in Sudbury, ON.

Bella was among 20 movies shown at the Real Life Film Festival in Sudbury, ON.

No doubt you could be excused for considering Hollywood to be a synonym for vice and a film festival an excuse to air all the freshest depravities of the film industry. For example, you may have been following the most prestigious film festival in the world, the Cannes, which recently awarded “Best Screenplay” to a movie centered on homosexual adultery. But to all you jaded film buffs out there, know that something very different was stirring in Sudbury.

From June 5-7, the REAL Life Film Festival (RLFF) debuted, presenting 20 films of varying lengths and genres with the common characteristic of being pro-family and pro-life. In an interview with The Interim, project manager Lina Madore described the festival’s mandate: “We had decided to create the film festival because we wanted a way to be able to bring the message of life and family to society. But we were trying to find a message that would be appealing and that would suit today’s society’s way of receiving information.”

Madore admitted that when they began this venture, she and her fellow organizers at the Water Gate, the registered charity behind the festival, “were newbies, so we had absolutely no idea what the heck we were doing.” The biggest challenges, she said, involved communicating with the directors and producers, getting a handle on the technicalities of licensing and getting the word out to interested communities and individuals. Developing the right contacts was especially time-consuming, as they felt their way forward in what was largely unfamiliar territory. Yet, despite these difficulties, it appears they managed to pull off an impressive event. Among the roster could be found such popular movies as Horton Hears a Who and Bella, as well as more edgy pro-life material like the The Terri Schiavo Story and the shocking drama 22 Weeks. According to Madore, the audience response was quite positive: “People told us that they were very impressed with the way that we had organized the film festival, that it was done in a very professional manner.”

Madore was very grateful to all those who helped make the festival possible, not least including the sponsors. In an RLFF press release, she was quoted as saying, “Support for this event has been overwhelming, with 40 partners from Greater Sudbury and across North America. I believe this speaks to a common desire to promote wholesome entertainment.”

One might think that the existence of another film festival in Sudbury, Cinefest, would have been a hindrance to the RLFF as a competitor, yet it actually deserves some the credit for its success. “We were in communication with Cinefest,” Madore told The Interim. “We actually had a meeting with them. They gave us a lot of advice. They encouraged us all the way through; they promoted our event on their website. Their attitude is: the more film festivals, the better.”

As for the possibility of an encore, Madore had this to say: “Because of the response we’ve had and the encouragement, not only from the people who assisted and participated in the film festival, but also from the corporate sponsors in the community, we decided to make this an annual event.”

Will there be any difficulty in finding films for next year that fit the stringent criteria? Madore’s answer is surprisingly positive.

“Oh my goodness, no! We had difficulty narrowing down the films, because there were so many great films. And now that we’ve made numerous contacts with different Christian film producers, I find there’s almost a revival going on in the film industry, where Christian filmmakers are really getting involved in making good films. As far as the art of filmmaking is concerned, with a good Christian message … they are all encouraged and full of hope. So I don’t see it as being a difficulty with getting enough films. I see, if anything, a difficulty with being able to select only a certain number of films. There are so many great films out there.”